Minhas Brewery Tour

Minhas 015Over the weekend my wife and I went for a brewery tour at Minhas Microbrewery in Calgary, AB. Also note that Minhas has a large brewery in Wisconsin as well as a distillery.

So we arrived at the brewery about 30 minutes prior to the tour so we could spend some time looking around their gift shop. There was no gift shop to be found and the staff told us just to hang around the bar because they were expecting more people. Shortly after that they brought us our first sample of beer. It was a Huber Premium and had a very yeasty, bready nose and based on the smell I was not sure I was going to like it. The head was a really nice, thick and fluffy. The color was a bright yellow/gold and was rather hoppy. It was okay and reminded me of a more mainstream beer then a craft beer.

So as we were waiting around we were taking some pictures of the bar, their bottles and tap handles and an employee came in and said that no pictures were allowed inside at all. There was one exception; we could photograph the “beer wall”. The beer wall consisted of about one hundred different cans and bottles in order of light to dark and malty to hoppy. The problem was it was huge and covered in glass, we couldn’t get a good picture and if we did get a picture without glare we wouldn’t be able to read any of the bottles or cans. The rest of the brewery was hidden in a different room which is not part of the “tour”.

Eventually another couple showed up and they started the tour. So first a young guy showed up who hardly looked old enough to be in the place and started a slide show on a LCD big screen television. He talked a little about the process of making beer, how to taste beer, things that can go wrong if you are careless and a little quiz at the end. They said that we would each get a (novelty) beer tasting certificate when we were done, that never happened.

Now the tour was going to start and we were excited! So we went through two separate doors and up a set of stairs and into the store (gift shop), which was open to a section of the brewery below. From this mezzanine our guide talked about what happened in this room. So it was basically fermentation, carbonation, bottling, capping, pasteurizing, cooling and hand packaging. There were no visible labels or numbers to describe the things that the guide was referring to and it left people rather confused. Then we walked over to a window that looked into the lab and he explained a little about what we could see. Then they gave us some time to look around the store; some branded shirts, glasses, poker chips, cards, etc.

Minhas 014Now back to the bar downstairs to sample three more beers. First up was the Uptown Girl Premium Light Beer. It is supposed to be a strawberry flavored fruit beer but was not overwhelming with the fruit flavor and was mostly dry and a little sour. It much more resembled sparkling wine or champagne than a beer. But with the low calories and carbs (57 cal & 1.9g carbs/207ml bottle) it may appeal to a certain market I am sure.

Then we tried the Imperial Jack Double IPA. It was rather dark amber with a foamy head. Pine and alcohol were the most prevalent on the nose. I was prepared for a mostly bitter, hoppy taste but that was mostly masked by the malt.

Next up was the Chocolate Bunny Chocolate Stout. Our guide had a hard time pouring this from the tap and it came with 50% head on top of a very dark brown black body. On the nose it was very smoky and a hint of dark chocolate. Fighting through the high head to get a taste it was very, very smoky; overwhelmingly so. It was the least enjoyable because of the smell and the taste. Someone actually said that it “tasted like your clothes smell after a camp fire”; it was a surprisingly accurate description. This was our last and final beer on our tour.Minhas 002

We had but a coupon from one of those social marketing websites that was $10 for two people, which work out as 50% off their normal price for the “tour”. We got to keep out little sample glass and were given a gluten free beer and two different sodas that they make to take home. So for five bucks, it was not a bad deal but could have been much better.

We had also bought a coupon for the restaurant, Pizza Brew which is attached. There was no menu of their beer at all, strange for a brewery not to show pictures of their beer with descriptions. So the deal was 2 pizzas and four 12oz beers for $20. The pizzas were great and I had a couple of Berghoff Reppin’ Red Ales. After the beer we tasted during the tour, this beer tasted good. The beer had a malty, caramel taste and was reddish amber in color. The pizza was very good. The other very strange thing here was that the two beers each that we were allotted with our deal were only for bottles even though they had a dozen of their beers on tap! This was very odd and I should have asked why.

2013-04-06 15.04.49Over all there was a great value for everything that we received for the money. The tour wasn’t great but we had four samples, a glass, a take home beer and two sodas for $5. The pizza and beer afterward was $10 for a pizza and two beers. A pretty good value for sure.

If the brewery added a beer menu, colored, numbered signs on the equipment they referred to during the tour and provided a tasting template and a pencil we could have compared notes to see what everyone thought of the beer that we had tried. Also, there is no reason that I can think of to not take pictures anywhere that we were. Besides, with social media some pictures might encourage others to show up and visit this microbrewery that is in an industrial part of town.

Just remember, they tell you that you can pick your four samples on the website, but you can’t. They seem to only provide the four smaples that I mentioned above.

Have you been to Minhas Microbrewery here in Calgary? Let us know what you thought.